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‘C&O × Alex Gardner’ by Crown & Owls + Alex Gardner

— Nix Thérèse

I’ve always been drawn to Alex Gardner’s fully-draped yet static silhouettes: the faceless, deep-hued figures often feel close to a shadow peeled from the floor and transformed into a living model. Their often purely white clothes share a wave of wrinkles, lending an effortlessly soft and touchable look, and steep in any light poured over them. Light both impacts and is refracted off their presence in these rooms, yet emotion is shown mostly through their gestures. The body can twist and engage differently on each side, yet controlled, symmetrical lines shift the eye to their logical end in hands, feet, even supple thighs. When Crown & Owls collaborated with Gardner to bring his vision to new-life in photos, the sometimes flashily colored outfits are juxtaposed with the smooth, consistent skin that we’ve come to expect. Ironically, most liquid in these paintings and remix shots are the surrounding surfaces: a corner bends less to separate a wall, floor, or ceiling, but instead transforms them into another branch of the stacked cubes and stages. The “undefined & empty” becomes a liminal space that often does not hold the human form, but catches shadow, soaks it in. Underlying it all seems to be the subtle notion that the Black body—falling closer to nightshade—is worthy of engagement; each encounter reminds me that light can spin around, gloss, and highlight some swath of skin instead of defining it.